In Which You Turn Three

Dearest CF,

I’m in the peculiar position of teaching Mrs. Dalloway on the day on which I myself am giving a party. I won’t buy the flowers myself, but I will buy candy and beer and lemons and ice. I will clean the toilet and blend egg whites and scrub the floors and make pisco sours and spike the punch to really get at the theme, which is Junior High. (Technically, I suppose I should leave the toilet as is.) Today I’m privacy-proofing my house. How I wish you could come.

Of course I sympathize with your rageful in-class moments. I have one pupil–a repeat from last semester–soft-spoken, sweet, deferential and considerate, who absolutely boggles and baffles me whenever she comes to office hours. She wrote a paper on a famous Yeats poem about rape. The aggressor is a swan. My student claims that the rape was the young woman’s fault. She must have been provoking the swan (this in a myth–there is no “he-said, she-said” version of this story). The essay is filled with startling turns, like how the young woman’s world was small and has now been “opened up” as a result of this event. The rape is “constructive,”  she writes elsewhere. The argument culminates with a dali-esque reading of the swan’s wings as Zeus’s “scrotums” [sic].

I am a poor teacher this semester. I stare dumbly. Today I was grading a paper in which the Whitman quote “hold my head athwart your thighs” exemplifies how one holds a baby. I wrote “?” and then “sounds dangerous?” then gave up and turned the page.

I am better. I awoke today in a positively Clarissa Dalloway-esque mood, larks! and plunges! everywhere I went. It felt risky to feel happy. “Shouldn’t I…” the familiar voice kept saying, but something over which I have no control refused to ponder the missed phone calls, uncharitable thoughts, the dusty socks and unfinished embroidery and chances (someone yesterday, for instance, with pretty eyes), the feeling of measured sameness speckling every new hour that will never change because I absolutely refuse to make anything  happen. It was all there, but hiding under the bed, like my ex’s boxers. Suddenly it feels like I can do things!

So, tonight, I am boiling potatoes and pleasurably pondering wings and scrotums and in what way they could possibly be said resemble each other.

I miss you, dear friend. I hope to visit soon.


PS–HAPPY THREE YEARS!!!! I am so terribly pleased for you, and toast you from afar.

PPS–What will you be for Halloween?

Populating the Pantheon


Dear CF (I hope you don’t mind my addressing you thusly, but I’ve taken to turning my friends’ names into verbs; here, you mean to “compare” or “consult”)–


Brad strikes me as a trifle unmusical for Apollo. (He also lacks the reputation for athleticism and pederasty). I agree that he’s no Zeus. Adonis? Strikingly handsome, slightly vapid, a beautiful cipher for all his roles (and wives)? This makes Jolie Aphrodite—or her Phoenician counterpart Astarte, which fits her better—and her progeny Cupids. Born out of the sea-froth of Voight’s severed genitals, Angie springs out of the ocean, fully grown, and is married off to ugly but skilled Hephaestos (Billy Bob Thornton).


For this to really work there would need to be an Ares in the background—some sort of warrior god with whom she has fabulous sex. Again, definitely not Brad, Troy notwithstanding. Ah: I have it. MEL GIBSON. Yes—the right combination of warlike and crazy, her opposite in every way. If the next Jolie-Pitt comes out be-kilted, we’ll have our answer.


Angie aspires to be a cross between Demeter and Athena, but a) she’ll never make the full transition to the hearth, and b) she’ll NEVER be Athena, no matter how many clicking gold owls she adopts.


A better identification, I think, is Brad as the swan and Jolie as Leda, who gave birth to two eggs, each containing a set of twins. Maddox and Pax as Castor and Pollux, and Shiloh and Viv as Helen and Clytemnestra. Zahara’s just a rock star, and poor Knox will have to occupy some other myth. Maybe Donatella will bless him with a technicolor dreamcoat. One doesn’t exactly hope for his eventual kidnapping and sale into slavery, of course, but it would be nice, for the sake of epic and poetry, to stick to the story.


I like Aniston as Penelope, although she doesn’t exactly seem to spend her nights undoing tapestries to keep the suitors at bay. I’m going to fly in the face of popular opinion and submit her as a non-virginal Artemis, what with her rage at the paparazzi who pry into her house. If she could, she’d turn them into stags and have them hunted to death with their own dogs. I suspect that she might be similarly committed to childlessness (recent tabloids notwithstanding) and to outdoor activities. I get the sense that, while she’d like a man, she wants to run on beaches and bathe naked (as do we all).


Then again, she might be Hera, the vengeful wife, although she hasn’t yet transformed Angie into a cow.


In sum, time will tell. Either


a) Knox gets kidnapped by white slavers

b) Viv kills her husband when he comes back from fighting a ten-years war
c) Angie’s seventh’s first word is in Aramaic or

d) she shows up on the red carpet in platinum horns specially designed by Karl Lagerfeld


and then we can put all this speculation to rest.


Congratulations on confronting the children. I confront mine on Friday. In the interim (and in your memory), I plan to go shoot guns.